March 30 2024

Just some thoughts on gender inspired by a mutual's post.

I've been thinking about my gender a lot more in the past couple years since I started leaning more and more transmasc. I've been vaguely butch since high school but started using any pronouns in 2022. Yes I know my about page says he/him, I still prefer those when I'm on here, I just use different personas depending on the outlet and in this case, I'm Aster. He uses he/him.

I'm butcch and I'm genderqueer and I'm a bear. A bear bear. I've got the bear pride flag on things, when I can find it. And I recently realized there's something all three of these labels have in common to me and that's why I like them. I associate each one with desctruction of some sort. Despite not being a woman anymore really, I still love the term butch because I like that I used to be one. I WAS a girl, I am purposefully destroying the ides of that girl I was and that was expected of me. I love the idea that my choices are made more impactful because of what I’m leaving behind in my dust. I don’t just want to be masculine, I want to take it and dissect it appropriate it for my own means. Being masc isn't my default state, even if it's the one I default to when given the choice, I made that change myself.

And on a similar note that's why I like genderqueer too, I'm defying the idea of gender and I don't like any other labels. I'll talk about my self as transmasc in a vague sense but I don't really indentify as it, it's only something that is useful in specific discussion. fuck you, i don't owe you any more explanation than genderqueer, i dont need to have one.

To be fair, I think my idea of what the bear label means to me specifically might be kinda skewed from the general agreed definition, but I don't really care. To me it means embracing the kinda gross and ugly sides of being masculine. Being fat, hairy, sweaty, covered in dirt and stupid little scars and just a clear map of really living in your body. Not treating it like a delicate museum object but instead as an animal your brain inhabits. It holds hands with the descrution of femininity that being butch represents to me but it takes it a step further, men and butches can be masculine and still be well put together and fit into a societal ideal of pretty masculinity. And I do love being the butch in a suit sometimes. But I'm still a bear in there.

And I like guys, I do, I call myself butch but I do very much fall for guys. Usually other bears. So I still fill the basic defintion of being a gay guy if you tilt your head the right way.

As a side note, my personas and self insert characters exist on a range here. I have one I'm thinking of now who thinks of herself mainly as butch, possibly later having a more agender/genderqueer identity but never being uncomfortable being seen as a woman. Another is like me, butch genderqueer and transmasc leaning. Another yet is binary transmasc in a very straightforward sense. Then there are a handful who are cis masc, or at least, not canonically trans in any way, they are just guys. I just think of them as guys. Aster is like that, I don't think about if he's cis or trans he is just a guy to me.

While I'm thinking about gender, I have a couple words of wisdom from my cis male friends:

"fat guys have boobs too"

(this one being slighly paraphrased because he used someone specific as a reference.)

(to friends) "she has a bigger dick than any of you"

*bows* thank you. that is all.

March 26th 2024 (evening)

Vent incoming. Rehearsal today sucked.

I am only in the lst three minues of the show, but I do still want to watch it, so I've been spending my time drawing in my sketchbook half-watching and listening to them rehearse. I did this for the entirety of the last show I was in with the same director, and I've done it for a couple weeks so far, but suddently today it was a problem. And the director said something like "if you don't want to be a part of it you can go into another room and do that, the actors can't work with you there" and if she had just been nice about it I wouldn't have minded at all! That's fair I guess, might be distracting. But she has said it was ok in the past and now siddently she's making a big fuss over "you're performing your own show over there" when i'm just sitting drawing and occasionally checking my phone for a minute.

And yeah big surprise it was on my mind the rest of the night and i wasn't able to focus when it was my time to be up.

Anyway. I talked to one of the other actors/the composer about doing some indipendent rehersal of our finale song, which he agreed was a good idea. I just can't do so much at once, I never got the chance to fully learn the current version of the song before they started adding dance moves. but while we were out on our own he was really sweet and validating and told me that the director was being too mean and he knew how i felt. we talked about the usual stuff, not taking things too personally and knowing it's her own impatience and bluntness and not any big fault of my own that she's like that. i hope we can do a music rehearsal without her there at all.

it's weird acting, I don't know why she asks me to be in her shows. i'm not an actor, i made that decision halfway through high school. i'm simply not interested enough in doing it, i don't get enough satisfation, to be worth how difficult it is for me personally to feel like i'm getting anywhere. i'm autistic or something, I dunno, my therapist says i have enough symptoms to get diagnosed but she doesn't reccomend it. anyway i have a lto of trouble fully entring and accting like someone i'm not. it just doesn't ever click for me. and there are totally people out there who it doesn't come naturally for but they have the passion and that makes it worth the effort, but i do not have the passion. it's simply not my thing.

and it's a cycle, then, i'm not good at it so i don't plan on doing it so i don't practise or research it so when people do ask me to act i'm bad at it. cause it's not a skill i care to put effort into honing. i don't care that i'm not a good doctor, or pilot, or knitter, do i? there are simply things i have no interest in pursuing. but apprently that's surprising to people when i work in theater. i do enjoy performing, i'm a singer, but that's waaaay more preplanned and has much stricter rules. i like speaking in front of a crowd as myself, i've done speeches and emcee'd. i enjoy puppetry and experimental movement, i can get fully into a character as long as I don't have to come up with words, tone of voice, accent, etc. i don't like thinking about how i talk, just generally i hate how i sound if i think about it too much. ask a kid i would go nonspeaking for large stretches of time when i was upset. it's my first thing to go.

Anyway i think my anxiety is reaching a point where it's worse than it's ever been. or at least, in a general sense. i don't think it's worse than when i was living with my ex but at least then it was focused on my relationship and i got a break at work and school. now i feel like i don't get a break anywhere, like I can't even sit still without feeling like there's something i should be doing instead.

I'm just trying to get some of my own projects off the ground right now, ones that are frankly terrifying and intimidating. areas i know a little about but have never been the head organizer of like i'm considering. but i know no one else is going to do it, no one else has the same drive and knowledge combined. i'd just really like the confidence boost, ya know? i could use it.

March 26th 2024 (morning)

I'm so curious about what seeing Three Houses is going to do to me, I'm almost dreading it.

The offical description on Signature Theater's site is: "Susan has fled to Latvia. Sadie hides in New Mexico. Beckett longs for Ireland. All three are alone; all three are haunted by their grandparents; all three hear the Big Bad Wolf scratching at the door. Three Houses is a post-pandemic open mic night parable about magic, madness, and the end of the world."

I'm thinking about all the times that I have had a profounf relationship to his work. No matter if it was the first time listening, maybe the fifth time listening but the first time fully grasping a piece, or maybe it was in the front row at Don't Stop Me, a show I had known for literal years all coming crashing together as it suddently became real in front of me. Don't Stop Me was a show I saw because I was a fan. That's already a specific relationship I had with the piece. I knew all the lines, chatted with friends about headcanons of the characters, could sing pretty much any song in there from memory and have even cosplayed one of the characters. And I like to consider myself someone who also looks at it critically, I spent much of that time discussing the work, the writing, the themes, every little intricacy in the way only someone with access to multiple bootlegs could. I was not experiencing the show in the way anyone who made it had intended.

Sure, the playwright and actors and probably Dave himself are fully aware there are people out there who are fans purely by this manner, they know full well we've seen footage that was never meant to be made public. I don't know how much the others think about it, but surely it crosses the mind of an artist like Dave Malloy, someone who has put so much thought and care into the way his shows are presented to their audiences. Great Comet is in a jazz club, the actors weave and dance between tables, sit next to audience members, share food and drink with them, pull them to their feet. Octet is set in a church basement, the only instruments are the actor's voices and the tambourines and pitch pipes they play, there is no piece of the artwork that isn't diegetic, isn't happening directly in front of you in these real people's lives and minds, even the fantastical aspects feel incredibly grounded. Ghost Quartet asks the audience members to take hold of the instruments that have been played by the performers, continuing their story as they walk out of the room. Beowulf asks you to consider it an acedemic lecture, until suddently it's a rock concert. And Don't Stop Me.

Don't Stop Me is a dance-a-thon being live streamed. That is part of the story. It is being live streamed, in the story the characters are painfully aware that all eyes are on them. Not just their parents, partners, friends, but the whole world. The whole world needs to know whether they will succeed or fail, some may be rooting for their victory, some for their downfall. And we are that audience when we are watching it live. THey are aware of us, sitting in those seats, forming our own opinions on who we think deserves The Prize. To a first time watcher unaware of the ending, they don't have that awareness to distract them, there is no reason they wouldn't speculate on who will win and who will lose. I was watching it with a friend who knew something of the ending, I had only told them that only one team would make it out alive, and they kept saying "please tell me it isn't [x character here]". It has been years since I first saw the show in its intirety, but even then I had already listed to the scattering of demos on Dave's page, I already knew too much to go in completely blind. The experience of going in blind to this show is something I never had, it captivates me to no end. I am experiencing it wrong. I don't mean in a moral sense, bootlegs and proshots are necessary for a greater audience to get to see such an ephemeral work of art such as theater, but in my own journey. I didn't know, it's no one's fault.

Don't Stop Me might be the first malloysical I see live, but Three Houses will be the first one I actually experience as intended.

This all is not to say of course, that Don't Stop Me was any less impactful. Because the simultaneous realization that the show was so much more thatn I had experienced before and also the meta awareness of that fact still hit me like a truck the first time I witnessed Seconds in person.

But on to Three Houses.

I've never experienced a Dave Malloy piece as theater in it's pure form. It's always been a research project, a fan obsession, a secret bootleg collection. I'm someone who sees a decent amount of shows, but and small, at least two a month. I'm very intimate with the way it feels to experience live theater. I.E. I can extrapolate, make an educated guess on how this is going to feel. And I feel like it's going to wreck me.

For the first time i don't know any more going into this show than any other stranger, nothing important, at least. A small collection of common themes, a couple familiar actors, references to the puppet designer's previous work. My mind tells me it's going to be more like Preludes than anything else, or maybe like Octet (same production company after all) but why? Why would I have any expectations? His music spans such wide genres, maybe it will be more like Beowulf! Who knows, who knows.

I have cried at his shows that I only have the albums to, I have had profound moments that will not leave my brain for days on end. Look at how long I've been able to talk about Don't Stop Me. I haven't even begun here on this page to start properly talking about my relationship with his blog posts and his other writing.

An "open mic night parable" is another interesting framing device. The Big Bad Wolf sratching at the door, the idea of magic and puppetry intertwined with someone whose work has typically been so grounded in reality. A fantastical reality, sure, but one that deals with anachronisms and fate and unexplainable figures build out of metaphor, not literal wolves. The Don't Stop Me DJ doesn't feel... magic? He feels like a figure of their collective conciousness. I suppose that's probably how this wolf will be too, though the addition of magic into the very description has grabbed my attention.

I am going to walk into a theater, just like I do here, and I will expereince a show blind for the first time. And it will be intense and spiritual and awe inspiring and everything his work is for me but all at once, not a slow trickle of information, detached through my computer screen. Right?

"Susan has fled to Latvia" "Sadie hides in New Mexico" "Beckett longs for Ireland" the word choice is so intentional, so vivid there. I feel like I'm seeing it for the first time now, did it change from previous press releases? Or is it something in me that has changed. The tickets are bought, I no longer need to worry about making sure I get in, it's solidified, it's happening. "All three alone; all three haunted by their grandparents" Malloy experimenting with the way we are haunted by those who came before us? I love the word "haunted" when it comes to artistic interpretaion. Haunting. So much possibility there. I recently saw a play about a man who repeatedly returns back to his parent's abbandonned apartment to try to find inspiration for his poems, only to come in contact with a being of some sort that posseses his friend. It had been haunting the place, or him. The experience of being affected and haunted by past generations isn't something i've seen his explore before, as far as I can remember.

WAIT I have thought of something. Fixing an old piano. Time to look.


21 February 2006

"today while placing a screw small in a place smaller i saw my grandfather grin back at me from the within the row of hammer shanks that are the pillars of the piano actions architecture; there his face roaming the single alleys of doweled wood, his head floating through and smiling at my clumsy fingers, fingers supple to ease the art out of this instrument but nevertheless too fat when dealing with the small crevices between damper spoons and flanges. i think he gets it, i think he really does; that all this above the wood is whirl and curl and just so much heart may pound furiously in the midst, but all that passion and stress in the end is over air, timeshadows though an ever moving sunbeam gone so soon...rn reminded me after our understudy crisis in 'cabaret' that our profession, the theater, is so bizarre in its hyperbole; its a fucking play. its a fucking play, its a fucking song - - and then: its a fucking feeling, its a fucking heart. its not the ground beneath my feet, the wood and felt and brass and strings wound tight held together with screws too small and elmers carpenter glue too rich."

Reading through some other mentions of his parents and family now, there are bits of memories, but that's all they are. Memories, nothing that stands out any more than the way an artist usually conextualizes the small and meaningless spark of familiarity that bring up past visions. Comparisons between his midwestern upbringing and his messy artist life. Nothign so far that has really piqued my interest in relating to this show. And that intruiges me, because his work has always been so personal, I've always been able to pick at it here or there and find those references back to his past writings I have read almost religiously. So I'm so curious how this will tie in to the world of his work I have created in my mind. And after nearly five years with no major shows (sorry Witches), what will he have made?

The pandemic has effected all of us in inumerable ways of course. I know this show itself is very purposefully about that time spent in isolation, spent with nothing but yourself when the constant contact of the people around you becomes to much to bear. Fuck a lot has happened for me too, moeved out, lost my mom, broke up, moved out again, graduated high school and college, started a job. What I haven't mentioned in all of this is beyond it being new live theater, and Dave's work of theater, the very bones are intense and personal. I broke up with my partner of two years and had to move home until the apartment was sorted out. I lived in a half empty house, one I hadn't spent more than a day or two in since my mom had passed, haunted by my not quite so distant dead relative.

So there's many aspects of this show that swim in front of me, building up the potantial that this is going to be some major spiritual moment like I've never had before. Anf on top of that, the conext of the trip, the specialness, the possibility of meeting actors, friends, all these things that had previoulsy been taking over my thoughts, just like Don't Stop Me, to be honest. But I'm not thinking about those things right now, I'm just thinking about what it will be like to experience the art itself.

And of course, see the puppet.

March 21st 2024

Thank god I forget to empty my PayPal and Venmo all the time, there was an extra 200 in there and I really needed it. I think I figured out why I was so anzious, sent in my work hours that were due today, hopefully that helps. With the anxiety, mainly.

I miss you Ace.

I miss you Ace. I miss you Ace. I miss you Ace. I miss you Ace. I miss you Ace.

I should really join that code jam that's going on right now in the 32-bit cafe server. I have even less time now, but maybe that'll push me to make something I can actually finish. I did write a big document of all my thoughts, maybe I can find some cohesive way to organize it.

There's a Puppet Slam tomorrow night that I really want to be at, but I have rehersal and am already going to be unable to go over the weekend. What a cruel joke, to be in theater you have to go see shows and meet new people! but you can't see other shows when you yourself are currently in one. I just wanna see the puppets again, the silly dog host is my favorite.

March 20th 2024

Finally got the majority of the work done overhauling my graphics collection! I'm glad I had the motivation to do it, it's so nice to have it back and have some sense of organization here again.

I've already noticed it happening where I turn on my phone when I'm bored and then have to accept that no, there's nothign in there right now, you have to either figure something out without technology for a few minutes or go into the effort of grabbing my laptop. And I think that effort alone is what's important. We want to do what is easy. Just like people say making sure you have healthy snacks that are easy to grab is important for eating less junk food, if I make going to by junk food sites just as much work as my more fulfilling sites, I should start to see some progress there. Hopefully.

March 19th 2024

Finally did it! Deleted instagram off of my phone. And tiktok, though I already barely looked at it I would just open it up when I thought about making a video, think about how annoying it would be, and then the app would probably crash anyway and I'd forget about it.

But instagram I was still using, I'd say it was my second go-to on my phone after checking my main discord huants. Nothign to do for three minutes? Time to scroll. Refresh refresh refresh etc. I purposefully never got Tumblr or Facebook on my phone, I knew that I didn't need another thing to distract me with, that it was bad enough and I wasn't going to start a new addiction.

So, no Insta on my phone. I still have a smart phone, sure, but now it's just for communication or looking something up on the go. Nothing to distract me in there. I also tried to get some games last year or so, just to have a distraction that was a little more engaging and less awful for me, but all of them were riddled with adds. That's what my switch is for instead, I suppose. And a good game you can't just pull out for three minutes while you're waiting for the microwave, you have to sit down for a half hour or so and give it a proper chance.

Not that I'm completely distancing myself from these social medias immidiately. I still open them up on my computer as part of my morning check-in, with my breakfast and tea. But the lack of convinience keeps me from being engrossedin them all the time. It's just a little more effort, but it's effort that forces me to think about what I'm doing. Maybe some days I go into it with a purposeful thought to see what a specific mutual is up to, maybe I just want to check my messages, maybe I know there's some event going on I want to advertise. Either way, it's as much as a purposeful act as checking neocities is, which then brings up the thought, why am I browsing here instead of exploring my mutual's personal sites?

Started a new discord server for people to send me stuff in, so maybe that will help me stay a little connected. If you want to show me something, send it to my discord that's the fastest way I'll see it.

At the same time, I'm confident in my coding skills that I feel like I can coach someone, bring someone along with me. I can't teach them, definitely not, but I can at least share with them the resources I used and give them some encouragement! Plus, of course, the promise of already having mutuals when moving into a new space would definitely help. When I got started on neocities I knew ONE person who had one, peanutbuttaz, and they aren't even super active. But just having someone else to talk to, to get excited with you, to swap tips with. I would hope that would go a long way.

So as people respond to my going-away-post with "I wish I could step away from social media" I'm responding to them with you can!! Just do it!! You don't have to immidiately stop using social media either, I've been here for a year now (though Aster's Archives itself is younger) and it took me a while to build up the confidence in this new community to then break away from my other socials. This was already the result of a lot of hesitation on my part. But the sooner I started taking those little steps, the sooner I could get to this point, even if it was a long road.

What else is up? The new bootleg took up a ton of space on my computer so I'm going to have to do some updating of my external drives and shifting some portfolio stuff over. I've been saving all my pictures as I put them up on my portfolio site but they're so big that at this point I should start removing them once they're backed up.

And back up those new bootlegs, in case I need to remove those too.

March 17th 2024

So I finally went back to the theater today after being sick for over a week. There's a show going on which I did the scenic painting for, at least as much as I could between leaving for a convention and then being sick.

Good show, winderful actors, but there was something that was distracting me the whole damn time.

They hadn't taken up all the blue tape.

I had put blue tape along the edge of the stage, since I was splatter painting and obviously wanted the edge to look nice. Well I had to leave before it was fully finished so I didn't pull up the tape, knowing that if someone came in to add more they wouldn't want to have to put more down. But apprently this was a mistake, because no one in the entire two weekend run they've had so far thought to pull up that tape. I'm so confused here.

March 13th 2024

Sorry I just have to vent a sec. Shootign lazers out of my eyes at the kids on discord calling Wally WelcomeHome "plus sized". That is a twink with a little bit of a soft belly. That's only two levels up from Hazbin Hotel stick insect. Jeezuz christ.

March 8th 2024

That's what your 20's are about, right? Making mistakes, fucking up?

This is coming only a week after my last mistake at work, where i left a paint sink running in the back when I left and didn't realize until I had been home for two hours. At 11pm. Gave myself a heart attack getting back down there to turn it off, I was convinced id arrive to a flooded paint room. it was fine though. worst part was it had come right after the last rental had done the same. i had been WARNED. though I turned it off quick enough, i don't even know if it was noticed. no i didn't tell anyone.

And also not long after I was given permission to use the sewing machines, because mine is kinda acting up right now and also i have no space in my room for the huge project i wanted to do. and i DID use the older ones, but i ended up hitting the needle on the plate more than once and didn't realize until the third time that it was because it was loose. i shouldnt have to say that generally this is bad. the plate is a little chewed up now. and that's another thing that i'm just waiting for someone to yell at me for.

How much of this is just life, how much of this is our new overly complicated world, andhow much is just me? Im not self depricating enough to think im some sort of unique species of fuck up. I just wish it was a little easier to not be so.

Maybe I should read more Dave Malloy, or more William Gibson. I still haven't finished his book, I made some progress on a car trip but it was getting to the point where his mom died, and I didn't want to be all upset in front of people in case they think something is wrong.

March 7th 2024

Is it normal to wish you could just start over? Change your name? Leave almost everything behind. I think about this with a lot of things. I think about it when I look at my online presence, how careless I was as a young teen and how I wish I had been just a little more careful in what I put my real name to. I look at my job, my relationships. I feel like I flip flop constantly between enjoying the very idea of forming even aquaintance bonds and not being able to stand the fact that I could exist within someone's memory. That I even exist outside of a direct sphere of influence.

I wish I could be one of those artists who works on one thing. Just one thing. For a really long time. Or even not a terribly long time, maybe two years or so. I finish one thing and it's pretty good or maybe it's charmingly shit but at least the effort can be appreciated. And this is just as much about motivation as it is about working WITH people. If I just worked on my own would I still have this much stress? If I fucked off to a cabin in the woods and embroidered for days on end without talking to a single soul? But I couldn't live like that. I need people, I need them too much. Need attention and validation and a reminder that I even exist.

Sometimes I wonder why all my most self-insert-y characters are ghosts, or imortals, or some otherwolrldly being defined by their seperation from the rest of the world. They flit in and out of reality, no real ties to any one time or place. They have no real connection or long term emotional responsibility to anyone, which is a blessing and a curse, they always long for what they don't have. As a kid one of my favorite movies was Yobi the Five-Tailed Fox, about a kitsune girl who had watched humans for so long, and wanted to be one. But she already lived a perfect life to me, she could pretend to fit in when she wanted and whenever something went wrong she could just dissapear into the woods. TUrn into an animal. Wait a couple hundred years before showing her face again. Of course, in my dreams something always went wrong. They would catch you, someone would be more knowledgeable than you expected, and you'd be captured or forced to run. But imagine. Imagine being allowed to interact with people only as much as you have to, being a mysterious figure no one expects to understand, and just getting out of there when you feel like it.

Do imortals think about a stupid mistake they made 600 years ago? Probably. It's probably even worse. Either that or you have to form a sort of mental shield, a new layer of dissasociation and distraction in your brain to deal with the crushing memory of ages far longer than it was supposed to hold.

I need to stop feeling like I always have to be up to date on things. "What if you just missed somerthing what if you let something go, just for tonight? Would it be alright? Oh, I swear it'd be the same" Dave Malloy. It's an addiction, right? As soon as I actually have something going on I can avoid it. But if not, even as I'm writing this, it's so hard not to check, isn't it?

As of this week, Tumblr stated publicly that its selling text and images from users to ai websites. That and the recent transmisogyny is making it very very hard to stay there. Where else do I go, here? My own little corner, my own little chair, screaming into the void. After the trip I took I had people to talk to on Instagram, I could feel that direct social connection that made it worth it. I was talking TO people, if no excatly directly, the people who I wanted to get the message were reading my stories. But I can feel even that waneing, and it feels strange to write there instead of on Tumblr, where my longer style posts feel more welcome.

There's a Tumblr clone now, I don't know the name off the top of my head but my partner has it. Idk if I'll join or just take the opportunity to stop. Just stop. Come back here. Tell all my mutuals to meet me here.

Is that too much work? To have to Remember to check in on your friends? To not have their new stuff spoon fed to you by the algorithm? Hell even Neocities has a system for following people to see when they're updating. And I know there's older services for that too.

Maybe I do just need to force myself to stop. To take a deep breath. Type out everything here in my own little corner of the void where a handful of you might even see it. And or keep chipping away at my personal site. See a play in person. Write a little thing about it. Have a silly little hyperfixation and write about it here in a vague enough way.

"He'd rather be safe than sorry, and he'd rather be safe than happy" Krista Knight, I assume. I don't know who wrote the character descriptions in the script. Maybe it was the kids themselves. Back when Rodger was presented as more of a model citizen model student does everything right sort of charcater, I didn't see much in him. He has some of the best one-liners in the show, of course, "1590, you know I missed a question" "sure, I mean, it's part of being an Eagle Scout". But recent Rodger, recent Rodger, he doesn't feel like he's a part of everything because he's some model student, no no that's the Valles' jobs. He has to be in charge, because he's too anxious to allow his fate to be in anyone else's hands. He doesn't think anything will go right unless he's the one to do it himself. "Every choice I make feels made with terror, dread, nausea and doubt".